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In this paper, we explore what the growing evidence in parapsychology can tell us about the ultimate nature of consciousness, as well as reality itself. The debate on the nature of consciousness is an old one, and different explanations can be grouped into three categories: materialism, panpsychism, and dualism. These categories represent views where everything is based on physical processes, consciousness, or some combination of physical processes and consciousness, respectively. The influence of empirical studies of the brain, as well as theories of the evolution rooted in physical processes, has led to the dominance of materialistic explanations in recent times. However, many have argued that the problem of consciousness itself has not been solved by purely materialistic explanations.
So far, there are no satisfactory explanations that describe exactly how subjective experience can emerge from purely physical processes. The hard problem of consciousness thus remains a strong challenge to materialism.
A curious feature about this debate is that the evidence on psi is rarely considered. Examining this evidence, which includes telepathy, clairvoyance, presentiment, psychokinesis, and near death experiences, substantially weakens the case for materialism. All of these involve anomalous information between minds or between mind and matter. Often advocates of psi argue that the evidence strengthens the case for dualism. However, arguably some types of psi, such as psychokinesis, imply a level of mind – matter interaction that is best supported by panpsychism.
A stronger case for panpsychism results from examining the evidence of the random number generator field research, pioneered by Roger Nelson. In these experiments, groups (or large populations) sharing a common emotion or exhibiting coherent attention have statistically significant effects on random number generators (RNGs). Much of the data involve the emotional responses of populations to worldwide events that are reported in the media. This class of experiments is different from other psi phenomena in that 1) the participants typically have no knowledge about the experiment and 2) the measured result (deviations in random number streams) indicates a broad effect on the most fundamental levels of matter.
Bertrand Russell provides perhaps the most serviceable framework for panpsychism. Russell begins his argument by noting that as physics has progressed our knowledge of matter, generally in the form of equations, has grown more abstract; thus the intrinsic nature of matter remains mysterious. He suggests that matter and consciousness may not be such different substances and that perhaps this intrinsic stuff of matter is something like consciousness. We can extend this framework by recalling that quantum physics has found the root of subatomic particles to be probability fields, which are not local. Thus the probability wave functions underlying matter are intermixed with a nonlocal version of mind or consciousness.
Shared emotions among large populations can be viewed as disturbances with nonlocal consciousness that underlies reality. Within this framework, these disturbances are thus linked with the probability wave functions at the root of matter. Thus common emotions that affect nonlocal consciousness at the basis of reality also likely cause shifts in the probabilities governing subatomic particles. The RNG field effect can be understood, therefore, to be detecting such shifts in the probabilities governing matter within the area of influence of the collective emotions experienced.
Originally posted by Xaphan
"The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all previous centuries of its existence."
~ Nikola Tesla
Originally posted by NorEaster
"Once information - in its various manifestations - is finally acknowledged as being a full participant in reality's contingent of physical contributors, every mystery that persists will fall within a few years' time." ~ NorEaster